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ENDANGERED AND THREATENED FAUNA SURVEY 

OF 

DONA ANA AND SIERRA COUNTIES, 
NEW MEXICO 



Report to 
Bureau of Land Management, 
District Office, Las Cruces , New Mexico 
in fulfillment of Contract No. NM-030-CT6-818 

by 
Julie Meents Ordal 

December 10, 1976 



Bureau of Lanr T>ent 

Library , ~ w 

Bidg. 50 : a* Center 
Denver, CO 



INDEX 

Page 

INTRODUCTION i 

METHODS iii 
FEDERAL AND STATE (GROUP 1) ENDANGERED SPECIES 

Jaguar 1 

Little Blue Heron 4 

Mexican Duck 7 

Bald Eagle 11 

Caracara 15 

Peregrine Falcon 17 

Aplomado Falcon 21 

Gila Monster 24 

Gila Trout 27 
STATE (GROUP 2) ENDANGERED SPECIES 

Olivaceous Cormorant 29 

Mississippi Kite . 33 

Zone-tail Hawk 35 

Black Hawk 38 

Osprey 40 

Least Tern 43 

Blue- throated Hummingbird k 46 

Red-headed Woodpecker 48 

Bell's Vireo 51 

Baird's Sparrow 54 

McCown's Longspur 57 



Trans-Pecos Rat Snake 

Sonora Mountain Kin^snake 

Lyre Snake 

Arizona Coral Snake 

White Sands Pupfish 
LITERATURE CITED 
AGENCIES AND INDIVIDUALS CONTACTED 



60 
63 
66 
69 
70 
72 
75 



INTRODUCTION 

Throughout the earth's history there have always been species 
on the verge of extinction. Indeed, it is a natural phenomenon that 
some species fail to adapt to long-term changing conditions (climate, 
etc.) and are replaced by species which are more successful in pro- 
ducing a phenotype that is compatible with the environment. 

In the recent past, however, man has greatly influenced and 
accelerated the decline of many species of organisms by habitat 
alteration, introduction of toxic substances and human pressure. 
Only recently have we begun to be aware of our role and accept res- 
ponsibility for conducting our activities from a biologically sound 
basis that will ensure the preservation of a diverse environment. 

A first step is the identification of those species which are 
threatened with extinction. This has been accomplished for most 
higher vertebrates but lower groups remain largely unexamined. A 
second step toward responsible action is to gather as much inform- 
ation as possible about the organisms in question. By having 
adequate knowledge of a species' ecology decisions about its man- 
agement are more likely to benefit its continued survival. 

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is intended to prevent the 
further decline, and to bring about the restoration, of endangered 
and threatened species and the habitat upon which they depend. The 
following report was written to aid the Bureau of Land Management in 
its responsibility of implementing the intent of this Act. It is 



designed to provide, basic information about those species considered 
to be endangered in Dona Ana and Sierra Counties of New Mexico. With 
this knowledge, public lands can be managed for the maximum benefit 
of those who depend upon them. This report is not meant to be 
comprehensive. Detailed field checks are necessary to confirm and 
supplement the generalized information on important habitats. 



ii 



METHODS 

Species considered here include Federal and State classified 
endangered and threatened faunal species. Federal species are derived 
from the Federal Register published September 26, 1975 by the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service. State species are those listed in the 
New Mexico State Game Commission's Regulation No. 563, adopted 
January 24, 1975 and amended May 21, 1976. 

Endangered species are those whose prospects of survival or 
recruitment are currently in jeopardy or are likley to become so 
within the foreseeable future. In this report, all species noted as 
"Federal" in the upper right-hand corner of the species' description 
are considered endangered. State endangered species are divided into 
two groups: Group 1 includes the species or subspecies whose pro- 
spects of survival or recruitment in New Mexico are now in jeopardy; 
Group 2 involves species or subspecies whose prospects of survival 
or recruitment are likely to be in jeopardy within the foreseeable 
future. 

A review of pertinent literature was conducted to determine the 
occurrence and status of any State or Federally classified endangered 
and threatened faunal species in Dona Ana and Sierra Counties, New 
Mexico. In addition, Individuals and agencies with specific knowledge 
of endangered species were consulted for unpublished or undocumented 
data. 

Based on this information, summaries of each species' important 



iii 



habitat , distribution, and current status were prepared. Maps for 
each species are based on reported sightings or collections and 
correlation of the species' habitat preference with the Vegetation . 
Type Map of New Mexico (N.M. A. & 1-1. A. , 1957). Locations of 
documented sightings and collections are indicated by triangles on 
each species' map. The potential range of the species is rep- 
resented by colored areas; red indicates summer occurrence, blue 
indicates winter or migration occurrence and green indicates year- 
long presence. The potential range includes areas where important 
elements of the species' habitat are present and where individuals 
of the species may be expected to occur. 



important habitat is defined as those areas which provide 
elements (food, cover, nest sites, etc.) necessary for the species' 
survival and perpetuation. 



iv 



JAGUAR Federal 

Felis onca arizonensis State-Group 1 



Habitat: The jaguar is primarily a lowland tropical species, but 
records from New Mexico demonstrate that it occurs in 
mountainous areas as well. The jaguar is recorded in 
dense chaparral and timbered sections of low mountains. 
It seldom enters higher, cooler areas. Availability of 
prey seems to be more important in determining habitat 
than climate or terrain. 

Distribution: The jaguar ranges from South America through Central 
America and Mexico into the southwestern United States. 
The subspecies arizonensis has historically occurred from 
southern California, Arizona and southwest Nev; Mexico into 
Sonora. Burt and Grossenheider (1964) list the jaguar as 
rare in the southern United States. Historic records 
indicate most New Mexico jaguar sightings have been 
confined to the southwest part of the state. There have 
been no verified records from New Mexico since around 
the turn of the century but it is likely that occasional 
animals drift across the border from Mexico (New Mexico 
Game and Fish, unpubl. data and B. Hayward, pers. comm.). 

Dona Ana County: San Andres Mountains - before 1903 

(Bailey 1971) 
no recent record 

Sierra County: west slope of Sierra de los Caballos - 

1904 or 1905 (Bailey 1971) 

possible in Black Range (B. Hayward, 
pers. comm.) 

no recent record 

Status: The jaguar has declined throughout its range primarily 
because it has been hunted extensively for its valuable 
hide. Persecution by humans and habitat alteration may 
also be important limiting factors. 



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LITTLE BLUE HERON 

Florida caerulea State-Group 1 



Habitat: The little blue heron breeds chiefly in and along freshwater 
marshes, streams or creeks. The nest is usually over water. 

Distribution: This species occurs from the southeast United States, 
Oklahoma and southern New Mexico through the Caribbean and 
Central America to Ecuador and Uruguay. It summers irregularly 
in the marshes along the lower Rio Grande Valley where 
occurrances arc quite local. It is listed as a rare or 
stray bird by Ligon (1961). Hundertmark found the little 
blue heron breeding at Elephant Butte Marsh (Narrows area 
in 1975) (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data) . This 
is the first evidence of breeding in New Mexico. 

Dona Ana County: local and rare in marshes along Rio Grande 

River 

Sierra County: 1975-breeding record of two nests with young 

at Elephant Butte in July (NMOS Field 
Notes) 
local and rare in marshes along Rio Grande 
River. 

Status: Populations of the species appear to be stable although 

declines may have taken place. The species is peripheral in 
New Mexico and seems to be limited by availability of breeding 
and feeding habitats. 



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MEXICAN DUCK Federal 

Anas diazi novimexicana State-Group 1 



Habitat: Over its range the Mexican duck occupies a wide range 
of habitats. In the Southwest the species inhabits 
tule-, grass-, or sedge-lined rivers, irrigation ditches, 
ponds and shallow lakes (Oberholser 1974). For breeding 
the species seems to minimally require fairly dense 
growth within a mile or less of water; the expanse of 
water need not be too large in size. Flooded fields and 
shallow, standing water are used for feeding (Nymcyer 
1975). 

Distribution: In its purest form Anas diaz i is confined to Mexico, 
from San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas south to Puebla. From 
Durango northward, populations are variously hybrid with 
the mallard throughout the remainder of its range (to 
southeast Arizona, southern New Mexico and west Texas) . 
The summer range of the Mexican duck in New Mexico is 
confined to the southwest part of the state and the Rio 
Grande Valley north to Albuquerque (Ligon 1961). It 
summers locally in the lower Rio Grande Valley in marshes 
and stream-size vegetation (Hubbard 1970). Nymeyer (1975) 
lists the following four locations as having the greatest 
concentrations of Mexican ducks: 1) the floodplain of 
the Rio Grande between Anthony and Las Cruces, especially 
between State Roads 404 and 28; 2) the floodplain of the 
Rio Grande in the vicinity of Salem and Rincon, about 50 
miles north of Las Cruces; 3) irrigated crop and pasture 
lands in the Uvas Valley, east of Hatch; 4) three marsh 
bosques adjacent to the Rio Grande approximately 3 miles 
north of Radium Springs. The concentration decreases 
northward from Salem and is very light on Caballo and 
Elephant Butte lakes (Nymeyer 1975) . Birds have been 
found breeding at the locations noted by Nymeyer. 

Dona Ana County: 1923-observations near Las Cruces 

(Lindsey 1946) 
1937-a dozen birds seen at Picacho Bosque, 

3 miles west of Las Cruces (Ligon 

1961) 
1947-adult with young at Radium Hot Springs 

(Ligon 1961) 
1974-three near Las Cruces, 1/27 (NMOS 

Field Notes) 
(see above text) 

Sierra County: 1975-continuing record-one bird at Elephant 

Butte, 7/11; and two on 7/18 (NMOS Field 
Notes) 
(see above text) 



Status: Present populations in New Mexico are estimated at 200- 
300 birds. In the past decade numbers have increased 
after declines in the previous years (Hubbard, ms.). 
The species' aridland river, lake and marsh habitat has 
been drying up since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. 
In the last century this natural phenomenon has been 
greatly emphasized by man's drainage of marshes and 
diversion of streams and rivers. Habitat loss and 
alteration have affected the species by causing a decline 
in overall numbers and encouraging invasion by mallards, 
which then hybridize with the Mexican duck and genetically 
alter the diazi stock (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. 
data) . 



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SOUTHERN BALD EAGLE Federal 

Haliaetus leucocephalus leucocephalus State-Group 1 



Habitat: The bald eagle is found along seacoasts, estuaries, wide 
rivers and large lakes where the water must be clear, 
fishing good and tall trees or cliff ledges available for 
its large nest. Nests found in New Mexico have been 
mostly on rock pinnacles, cliffs of trees near water. 

Distribution: The bald eagle breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland 
and south to Baja, California, the Southwest, Texas and 
Florida. It winters southward to Mexico. The southern 
bald eagle is no longer known to breed in New Mexico but 
breeding populations have apparently always been small 
(New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). A previously 
used eyrie (about 1962) is known from Beaverhead, Catron 
County (T. Smylie, pers. comm. to New Mexico Game and Fish). 
Hubbard (1976) feels that the bird may nest more widely 
in New Mexico than present data indicate. In winter and 
migration the bald eagle is relatively widespread and 
even locally common. Occasional birds are likely to be 
found in any part of the state, though most concentrate 
at reservoirs and along major watercourses. Winter 
populations have been increasing in recent years because 
of the related increase in "rough" fish populations (New 
Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). In the winter of 
1974-1975, an estimated 200-300 eagles are thought to 
have been present in New Mexico (New Mexico Game and 
Fish, unpubl. data). 

Dona Ana County: winter-Fort Thorn (Hatch) (Bailey 1928) 

winter (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1965-immature bird at Caballo Reservoir, 

12/30 (NMOS Field Notes) 

1974-one bird at Caballo Lake, 2/15 (NMOS 
(Field Notes) 

1976-one or two birds in the period 1/10- 
2/29 at Elephant Butte (NMOS Field Notes) 

Status: The bald eagle is decreasing from a number of causes. 

A major factor is direct loss from shooting or poisoning. 
Human disturbance may also be important although some 
dispute this. Some population losses may be attributed 
to the rapidly expanding human population and subsequent 
land development. Many nest trees have been removed or 
the habitat unfavorably altered (siltation of streams, 
pollution, etc.) (Snow 1973). One factor evident in all 
the records of rapid decline of bald eagles is a lowering 



12 



of the reproductive success. This is primarily the 
result of ingestion of hydrocarbon pesticide residues 
in prey, causing thinning of eggshells and consequent 
reproductive failures. Residues, specifically DDT and 
its metabolites are highest where reproductive rates 
are lowest (Snow 1973) . 

The cause of the bald eagle's decline in New Mexico 
is unknown but it is unlikely that stream degradation 
has caused the food supply to decline. Persecution may 
also be a problem but such factors as pesticides do not 
seem to be critical. 



13 



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CARACARA 

C aracara cheriway audubonii 



State-Group 1 



Habitat: The caracara occurs on warm, usually rather dry prairies, 

savannahs and pampas. In New Mexico it is found in lowland 
shrubland and possibly riparian woodland (Hubbard 1970). 
It nests on prairies or hill slopes, in brush or woodland. 
In desert regions it may nest in the branches of giant cactus 
(Bent 1938). 



Distribution: The caracara occurs from the Southwest, Texas and Florida 
to Peru, Guianas and Cuba. There are only four reports of 
the species from the extreme central-southern region of New 
Mexico and it is considered rare and local (Hubbard 1970) . 
The species is most likely to occur in or near the Rio Grande 
Valley where single birds may winter and the species may 
breed very rarely. 



Dona Ana County: 



1856-near Hatch (Bent 1938) 
1914-Mesquite (Hubbard 1970) 
occasionally winters (Hubbard 1970) 



Sierra County: no record 

Status: The numbers and range of the species have generally declined 
in the United States. It can be considered only a vagrant in 
New Mexico but it is possible that human disturbance may 
affect its occurrence here. 



16 



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PEREGRINE FALCON Federal 

Falco peregrinus anatum State-Group 1 



Habitat: Cliffs are the most commonly used nest sites although 

peregrines are also known to occasionally nest on slopes 
and river cutbanks, mounds, sanddunes and flat bogs and 
plains. They may also nest in hollows of old or very 
large trees (Snow 1972) . Favored cliffs are often 
extremely high, frequently overlook water, and permit an 
extensive view of the surrounding countryside (Hickey 
1942) . Peregrines accept cliffs in igneous and sedimen- 
tary formations. Where they are available, the falcons 
readily utilized limestone cliffs, since these often 
have small caves which can be used as nest sites and 
night roosts (Snot 1972). Preferred habitat usually 
includes rivers, streams or large bodies of water because 
many of the peregrine's prey species utilize such habitats 
(Ligon 1961). 

Distribution: In New Mexico the regularity of summering of the 
peregrine falcon in the past is not clear. In recent 
years there are a few records of the peregrine in the 
summer and the species is probably casual or occasional 
in most areas of the state, generally near water (Hubbard 
1970). In migration and winter it occurs essentially 
statewide (New Mexico . Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 

Dona Ana County: 1964-single bird at Caballo Lake, 9/24 

• (NMOS Field Notes) 
no evidence of breeding, present in 
winter* (Hubbard 1970, Snow 1972) 

Sierra County: no evidence of breeding, present in 

winter* (Hubbard 1970, Snow 1972) 

* Exact location of eyries and winter or migration sightings 
are rarely publicly available because of possible 
pressure on the birds from observers. 

Status: The rapid decline of peregrine populations began after 
World War II which is the same time that chlorinated 
hydrocarbons such as DDT were first widely used. Nelson 
(1969) has suggested that climatic conditions may also 
have affected peregrine populations by causing a north- 
ward shift in the falcon's distribution. This theory is 
conjectural. Increasing development of the West, resulting 
in alteration or loss of peregrine habitat is also 
exhibiting some effect on populations. Researchers 
disagree on the impact of direct huntan pressure (Snow 1972) . 



18 

The declines associated with pesticides in other 
parts of the world may not be too severe in New Mexico 
since birds in the state appear to be largely resident 
and do not usually inhabit areas where such chemicals 
are used. Habitat destruction, shooting, collecting 
and falconry have probably had an effect on the state's 
populations. 



19 



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APLOMADO FALCON 

Falco femorali s septentrionalis State-Group 1 



Habitat: In the United States the aplomado is found in shrub desert ' 

or shrub grassland with growths of mesquite, yucca and 

cactus (Bent 1938) . It nests almost exclusively in yuccas 
(Ligon 1961) . 

Distribution: The aplomado falcon occurs from the Southwest to 
southern South America. In New Mexico it was formerly 
resident of all open valley and prairie land from the 
Guadalupe Mountains westward but presently seems confined 
to open yucca desertland from the Rio Grande west (Ligon 
1961) . Hubbard (1970) lists the species as occasional 
in the southernmost part of the state since 1928. 

Dona Ana County: 1909-10 mi. east of Rincon-nest with 

young-also several other nests on 
adjacent Jornada during 1908-1909 
(Bailey 1928) 
Jornada del Muerto (Ligon 1961) 
summer resident (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1917-25 mi. north Engle-two birds (Bailey 

1928) 
1918-10 mi. northeast Engle-one bird 

(Bailey 1928) 
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summer resident, casual in winter 

(Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The status of the aplomado is not well known south of the 
United States. It has been, infrequently reported in New 
Mexico in the last 25 years. Since 1960 there has been 
an average of one sighting every 2-3 years (New Mexico Game 
and Fish, unpubl. data). It is difficult to associate any 
obvious environmental changes with the decline of the 
aplomado in the Southwest since the species seemed to be 
very successful in yucca grassland-a habitat which has 
remained largely intact. In Arizona the decline seems to 
coincide with a time of maximum livestock grazing but in 
New Mexico the species persisted in numbers for several 
decades beyond that (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data) 



22 



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GILA MONSTER 

Heloderma suspectura suspectum 



Federal 
State-Group 1 



Habitat: The Gila monster seems to prefer the foothills of desert 
mountains and the adjacent outwash slopes, especially in 
canyons or arroyos where -water is at least periodically 
present. It may also be occasionally found on intervening 
desert flats and irrigated farmland. Suitable cover 
includes large boulders and thick brush as well as mammal 
holes and rock crevices (Campbell 1976, New Mexico Game 
and Fish, unpubl. data) . 

Distribution: The species ranges from southwest Utah, southern 
Nevada, and southeast California across the southern 
half of Arizona into southwest New Mexico and southward 
through most of Sonora into Sinaloa. In New Mexico the 
Gila monster is peripheral and rare to uncommon in most 
areas of occupancy. The species reaches its eastern 
range limit and does not occur east of the Rio Grande 
and probably does not occur that far east (Campbell 1976) . 



Status: 



Dona Ana County 



The presence of the Gila monster in Dona 
Ana county is subject to much con- 
jecture. Several animals have been 
sighted and even collected in the 
county but many believe these to be 
escaped or released captives (B. 
Hayward , pers. comm. ) . 

Collections: (from Campbell 1976) 

1937 or 1938-Kilbourne Hole, about 25 
mi. SSW of Las Cruces 

about 1970-just east of Las Cruces 
Sight records: (from Campbell 1976) 
1949-Kilbourne Hole 

1938 and 1949-Aden Crater about 25 mi 
SW of Las Cruces (probably Kilbourne 
Hole) 

about 1965-about 2 mi. west of Las 
Cruces airport. 



Sierra County: no record. 

The Gila monster is fairly abundant over much of its 
rather extensive range, especially in Sonora and southern 
Arizona. In New Mexico it is peripheral and uncommon to 
rare in most areas of occupancy. Populations appear to 
have declined in recent years. Because the species has 
legal protection in other states where it occurs and 



25 



Mexican export permits are difficult to obtain, the 
New Mexico population has been exploited by collectors. 
The animals bring good prices in the pet trade and are 
otherwise desirable specimens (New Mexico Game and Fish, 
unpubl. data) . 



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GILA TROUT Federal 

Sal mo gilae State-Group 2 



Habitat: The Gila trout is found in cool, clear running mountain 
streams, narrow in width (5-10 ft.) and shallow in depth 
(1-1.5 ft. and less in running portions), rarely deeper, 
pooled areas (Nev; Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 

Distribution: The present distribution of this species is restricted 
to the headwaters of the Gila and San Francisco River 
where it is concentrated in the deeper portions of streams 
(Hanson 1971) . 

Dona Ana County: not present 

Sierra County: South and Main Diamond Creeks, Black Range 
Primitive Area of Gila National Forest 
(David 1976) 

Status: At present the Gila trout is fairly secure. The distribu- 
tion is relatively widespread but subject to a number 
of threats. Its decline has been primarily due to the 
introduction of exotic trout species. Hybridization with 
the rainbow trout has been of major importance and has 
resulted in the elimination of pure strains of Sa lnio gilae 
except where they are isolated by barriers. Competition 
with the other introduced trout species (brown and cutthroat) 
has also had a negative effect. Habitat degradation from 
overgrazing, wild fires, lumbering, mining and other 
activities resulting in siltation and water pollution have 
also affected the Gila trout's survival. 



28 



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OLIVACEOUS CORMORANT 

Phalacrocorax olivaceus sspp. State-Group 2 



Habitat: Throughout its range the olivaceous cormorant is found 
in a diversity of habitats ranging from lowland marshes 
to mountain streams. It generally requires drowned 
groves or trees near water for feeding and nesting 
(Hubbard 1975). 

Distribution: The olivaceous cormorant occurs widely in the 

tropical Americas and temperate South America. It ranges 
north to Louisiana, Texas, and Sonoran coasts and to the 
Southwest. The first observation of the olivaceous 
cormorant in New Mexico was in 1854 by Thomas Henry. 
He found the birds to be "very common" in a brackish 
pond along the "del Norte" (near the town of Hatch) . 
This population may have died out in the subsequent 
years (Hubbard 1975) . No birds of this species were 
observed again until several breeding pairs were found 
at the Narrows, Elephant Butte Lake, in 1972. 3reeding 
pairs were also there in 1974 and 1975, but the population 
remains small (Hubbard 1975) . The species has also been 
occasionally recorded in the Rio Grande Valley north to 
Socorro and south to Las Cruces, and may be considered 
a resident in New Mexico (New Mexico Game and Fish, 
unpubl data) . 

Dona Ana County: 1854-collected near Hatch (Hubbard 1970) 

1967-collected near Las Cruces (Hubbard 
1970) 

Sierra County: 1972-breeding record, Narrows, Elephant 

Butte Lake (Hubbard 1975) . 
1974-two birds at Elephant Butte, 4/27 
(NMOS Field Notes) 

-three adults at nests on Elephant 
Butte, 7/9 (NMOS Field Notes), 
-single bird at Elephant Butte, 11/10 
(NMOS Field Notes) 
1975-four birds on nests at Elephant Butte, 
3/22-3/23 (NMOS Field Notes) 

-four to five nests, one with two 
young, at Elephant Butte, 5/11 (NMOS 
Field Notes) 

-at least five young produced from 
five nests at Elephant Butte-first 
definite breeding record for New Mexico 
(NMOS Field Notes) 



30 



1976-continuing record-two birds at 

Elephant Butte, one at Caballo Lake, 
3/12 (NMOS Field Notes) 

Status: The species is apparently stable in New Mexico. It is 
potentially limited by availability of nest sites, 
persecution because of its fish-eating habits, fluctuation 
of food supply, and human disturbance. 



31 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



OLIVACEOUS CORMORANT 




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32 



SIERRA COUNTY 



OLIVACEOUS CORMORANT 



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33 



MISSISSIPPI KITE 

Ictinia mississippiensls State-Group 2 



Habitat: Throughout its range the Mississippi kite occurs in 

variable habitats; but in New Mexico lowland riparian 
woodlands and planted groves are common places of 
occurrence (Hubbard 1970) . Optimum nest sites are in 
cottonwood timber along rivers and shelter belts in 
adjacent areas. It may nest in mesquite trees occasionally 
(Ligon 1961). 

Distribution: This species breeds in the southeastern United 

States westward through the southern Great Plains and 
locally to the Southwest. The Mississippi kite summers 
locally in the south and central Rio Grande Valley where 
it is rare to uncommon (Hubbard 1970) . There were no 
New Mexico records prior to 1955. In 1956 sightings 
were made north of El Paso (Ligon 1961) . The species 
has been occasional or irregular since the mid-1950 's 
at Corrales in the Las Cruces-Anthony area (Hubbard 
1970). It is not present in the state during the winter. 

Dona Ana County: 1956-sightings north of El Paso at 

Texas-New Mexico border (Ligon 1961) 

1962-one bird collected near Las Cruces 
as first state specimen (NMOS Field 
Notes) 

-five birds, including two immatures 
near Anthony, 8/4 (NMOS Field Notes) 

1975-continuing record of two adults in 
Rio Grande Valley just north of 
Texas line, 5/17; with two adults 
and two immatures there 5/29 (NMOS 
Field Notes) 

1976-continuing record of single birds 
in Rio Grande Valley at Texas Line, 
5/19 (NMOS Field Notes) 

Sierra County: no record 

Status: The species appears to be flourishing in the southern 
Great Plains, but further east it has shown a marked 
decline. In the last two decades the species has expanded 
and bred in several areas of New Mexico. It is probably 
limited by availability of suitable habitat and also 
possibly by human persecution. 



34 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



MISSISSIPPI KITE 



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35 



ZONE-TAIL HAWK 

Buteo albonotatus State-Group 2 



Habitat: The zone-tail hawk is generally found in large cottonwoods 
of streams and canyons and coniferous forests of high 
mountains. It nests in walnut, cottonwood, or pine trees 
along streams (Ligon 1961) . 

Distribtuion: The zone-tail hawk ranges from the Southwest south 
through the western part of South America to Bolivia 
and Paraguay. The species is generally poorly known in 
New Mexico but it apparently breeds very locally in low 
mountains and canyon areas from the southern New- Mexico 
border northward to the Jemez mountains (New Mexico Game 
and Fish, unpubl. data). Ligon (1961) lists the summer 
range as extending from the Arizona line eastward to the 
Guadalupe and Capitan mountains. Occasional birds are 
reported in winter from the southwest part of the state. 

Dona Ana County: summer (Ligon 1961) 

migration (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1964 - one bird seen in Monticello Canyon, 

north of Truth or Consequences, 3/21 
(NMOS Field Notes) 
summer (Ligon 1961) 
migration (Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The status of the zone-tail hawk is not well known in the 
United States but some decline apparently has occurred. 
Persecution by shooting may be an important factor since 
the bird is especially vulnerable at the nest. Destruction 
of lowland riparian woodlands is also of importance (New 
Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data) . 



36 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



ZONE-TAIL HAWK 




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37 



SIERRA COUNTY 



ZONE-TAIL HAWK 



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38 



BLACK HAWK 

Buteogallus anthracinus anthracinus State-Group 2 



Habitat: The black hawk prefers low altitudes and is characteristically 
found in heavily wooded bottoms along lowland streams. 
It nests in cottonwoods , willow tree groves, or pines. 

Distribution: The species ranges from the southwest United States 
to Peru and Paraguay. In the United States it summers 
from southern Texas to central-western Arizona. It is 
peripheral in New Mexico and summers primarily in the Gila, 
San Francisco, and Mimbres drainages at 4500-5500 feet 
(New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data) where it is rare 
to uncommon. There are no reliable records from the east 
or north parts of the state. The species is not present 
in winter. 

Dona Ana County: Ligon (1961) mentions a few records in 

the Rio Grande Valley around Las 
Cruces, and it may be considered 
an uncommon summer resident in that 
area. 

Sierra County: no record 

Status: No serious decline of the black hawk has been noted in 
New Mexico, but without doubt the species has decreased 
to some extent in recent decades. It is apparently 
limited by availability of riparian habitat and may 
suffer some losses due to human persecution. 



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BLACK HAWK 













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40 



OSPREY 

Paudion haliaetus carolinensis State-Group 2 



Habitat: Since ospreys feed almost exclusively on fish they are 
usually found near streams or bodies of water that have 
an abundant fish supply. They nest in forest, strips of 
timber along streams or open country near extensive 
bodies of clear water. The usual osprey nest site is 
on a dead snag in or near the water and tall enough 
to provide security from predators and good visibility 
of the surrounding area (Johnson, et al. 1973; Roberts 
1969). It may also nest on pinnacles or cliffs (Ligon 
1961). 

Distribution: The osprey is not known to breed in New Mexico. 
The species occurs widely throughout New Mexico as a 
spring and autumn migrant and is considered to be rare 
to locally common, mainly near water (Hubbard 1970) . 

Dona Ana County: Fort Thorn (Hatch) (Bailey 1928) 

migration (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1974-one bird at Elephant Butte, 7/9 

(NMOS Field Notes) 
migration (Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The osprey has declined throughout its range in recent 
years. Many factors are responsible. Some are only 
locally important; others may have an impact on nearly 
all breeding birds. The major factor seems to be the 
effects of organo-chlorine pesticide residues which 
concentrate in fish (Koplin 1971) . These interfere 
with calcium metabolism and cause nesting failure due 
to eggshell breakage. Loss of nesting sites by deterior- 
ation or forestry practices may also be important. 
Human activity may cause direct loss through persecution 
and indirect loss from disturbance and habitat degradation 
(Kahl 1972) . In New Mexico the primary problems are 
persecution and degradation of streams with subsequent 
diminished food supplies. 



41 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



OSPREY 




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42 



SIERRA COUNTY 






OSPREY 













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INLAND LEAST TERN 

Sterna albifrons athalassos State-Group 2 



Habitat: The inland least tern occurs on sandbars, spits and 

alkali flats where it requires level, unvegetated ground 
near water (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). It 
nests on sandy or clay flats, particularly if strewn with 
pebbles or shells. 

Distribution: The least tern is distributed nearly worldwide. The 
subspecies athalassos breeds in the Great Plains and upper 
Mississippi Valley and winters from the Gulf of Mexico 
southward. In New Mexico it summers at Eitter Lake NWR 
and is occasional or casual in other parts of southern 
New Mexico (Hubbard 1970) . The species has been reported 
in the Rio Grande Valley by Ligon (1961) but there have 
been no recent sightings in this area. 

Dona Ana County: possible (Ligon 1961) 

Sierra County: possible (Ligon 1961) 

Status: In New Mexico the least tern has exhibited variable 

population trends. There are usually only about a dozen 
birds present in a season. The species appears to be 
somewhat limited by suitable breeding habitat. 



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44 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



LEAST TERN 




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45 



SIERRA COUNTY 



LEAST TERN 




46 



BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 

Lampornis clemencioe sspp. State-Croup 2 



Habitat: The blue-throated hummingbird is found in moist shady 

canyons at moderate elevations of desert mountains. It 
nests in mountains on wooded slopes and in timber along 
streams and canyons. 

Distribution: The species occurs from the southwestern United 

State southward through Mexico to Oaxaca. In the U.S. it 
occurs locally in the mountains of west Texas to southeast 
Arizona. The blue-throated hummingbird is known from only 
a few locations in southern New Mexico. 

Dona Ana County: 1934-Mesilla Park, 5/16 (Ligon 1961) 

1941-Anthony, 5/4 (Ligon 1961) 
1974-Las Cruces-May, breeding (R. Wahl, 
pers. coram.) 

Sierra County: no record 

Status: At present the blue-throated hummingbird is only a vagrant 
in New Mexico where it is very rare and local. 



47 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 



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48 



RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 

Melanerpcs erythrocephalus caurinus State-Group 2 



Habitat: The red-headed woodpecker is found in open parts of 
forests, groves of trees scattered on prairies, and 
fringes of timber along streams. It may be seen infre- 
quently in cultivated areas and in yards or gardens 
in towns. In New Mexico the species is strictly 
associated with lowland riparian woodlands, planted 
trees and utility poles (Hubbard 1970) . 

Distribution: The red-headed woodpecker is present from southern 
Canada to north and east New Mexico and the Gulf coast. 
In New Mexico it summers from the Texas line westward 
very locally to the San Juan Valley, central Rio Grande 
Valley and the lower Pecos Valley (Hubbard 1970) but 
may be seen almost anywhere in New Mexico. 

Dona Ana County: 1964-onebird at Corrales, 7/13 (NMOS 

Field Notes) 
summer (Hubbard 1970) 
occasional (Ligon 1961) 

Sierra County: 1976-single adult at Percha Dam State 

Park, 2/29 (NMOS Field Notes) 
summer (Hubbard 1970) 
occasional (Ligon 1961) 

Status: The species appears to have declined in New Mexico since 
the mid-1920' s. The range is still extensive but numbers 
have decreased. The usual factors of habitat destruction 
and persecution have undoubtedly caused some decline in 
the species. An additional important factor is competition 
for nest holes with the introduced starling ( Sturnus 
vulgaris ) . 



49 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 










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50 



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RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 



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51 



BELL'S VIREO 

Vireo bellii sspp. State-Group 2 



Habitat: The Bell's vireo is found in dense shrubland of woodland 

along stream courses with willows, mesquite and seepwillows 
being characteristic plant species. During migration it 
occurs in brush or open woods. 

Distribution: The Bell's vireo breeds from southern California, the 

Southwest, and the central Great Plains and adjacent Midwest 
southward to northern Mexico. The subspecies medius 
summers locally in southern New Mexico lowlands where it is 
rare to fairly common. It occurs irregularly in the lower 
Rio Grande Valley (Hubbard 1970) . The species is not well 
known. 

Dona Ana County: summer (irregular) (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1975-species record at Elephand Butte, 5/11 

(NMOS Field Notes) 
summer (irregular) (Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The Bell's vireo has declined locally in parts of its range 
(Arizona) but generally its range and numbers are relatively 
stable. In New Mexico the species is very local and not well 
known enough to determine population trends. Losses of 
riparian habitats are detrimental to its success. In addition, 
there is strong evidence for a negative influence from nest 
parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird ( Molothrus ater ) (New 
Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 



52 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



BELL'S VIREO 













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53 



SIERRA COUNTY 



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54 



BAIRD'S SPARROW 

Ammod ramus bairdii State-Group 2 



Habitat: The Baird's sparrow breeds in shortgrass prairies with 

scattered low bushes and old, matted vegetation. In winter 
it frequents grassland prairies and plains where grass cover 
is densest. It occasionally occurs in alfalfa and overgrown 
fields. 

Distribution: The species breeds from the prairie provinces southward 
to North Dakota and adjacent states. It migrates through 
the Great Plains and the Southwest to winter in Texas, Arizona 
and adjacent Mexico. Baird's sparrow formerly migrated 
(autumn) almost statewide in New Mexico. Recent observations 
are limited to the eastern plains and the Southwest and 
extremely locally (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 

Dona Ana County: 1939-Radium Springs, September (Hubbard 

1970) 
autumn migrant (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: autumn migrant (Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The species seems to have declined throughout its range and 
is now rarely reported in the Southwest. The. reasons for 
its decline are most likely related to the impacts of 
drought, agriculture and other factors affecting the shrubby 
shortgrass prairies where the species breeds. Similar effects 
on migratory and wintering habitats are also probably 
responsible for the decline. 



55 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



BAIRD'S SPARROW 




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56 



SIERRA COUNTY 



BAIRD'S SPARROW 



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57 



McCOWN'S LONGSrUR 

Calcarius mccoTOi State-Group 2 



Habitat: The McCown's longspur feeds and nests on semiarid ground 
where grass is very short and/or sparse. Typical plants 
include sage, buffalo grass and prickly pear. It winters 
on drylake beds, plowed fields and plains where grass or 
stubble is less than two inches high (Oberholser 1974) . 

Distribution: The species breeds from the Prairie provinces south- 
ward in shortgrass prairie to northeast Colorado and 
southwest Nebraska. It winters from eastern Colorado and 
Kansas to north Sonora, Durango and south Texas. Before 
the 1900 T s the McCown's longspur was widespread and more 
numerous than au present in New Mexico. It has been 
infrequently reported since 1930 (Hubbard 1970) . The 
species winters in the east and south and the most recent 
records of its occurrence are in the southern half of 
the state. 

Dona Ana County: 1930-near Las Cruces (Hubbard 1970) 

winter (Hubbard 1970) 

Sierra County: 1975-unsubstantiated record of birds 

giving calls different from Chestnut- 
collared longspur, near Nutt, 1/21 
(NMOS Field Notes) 

regular occupant-Nutt area (New Mexico 
Game and Fish, unpubl. data) 

migration (possibly only formerly) 
(Hubbard 1970) 

Status: The McCown's longspur has declined on both its breeding 

and wintering grounds since the early part of the century, 
The declines may be partially attributable to habitat 
degradation from drought, agriculture and overgrazing. 
Associated drops in winter seed crops may be important 
on wintering areas. 



58 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



McCOWN'S LONGSPUR 




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59 



SIERRA COUNTY 



McCOWN'S LONGSPUR 




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60 



TRANS-PECOS RAT SNAKE 

Elaphe subocularis State-Group 2 



Habitat: The Trans-Pecos rat snake occurs in arid and semiarid 
environments and is often associated with rocky areas 
supporting shrubby vegetation. 

Distribution: This species occurs from Durango and Nuevo Leon in 
Mexico northward through Trans-Pecos Texas into 
southern New Mexico. The Trans-Pecos rat snake is 
peripheral in New Mexico. 

Dona Ana County: 9/47-near San Augustin Pass-east slope 

of Organ Mountains 
6/64-O'Hara Road, 2 mi. from junction 

with White Sands Highway 
7/65-west side of Tortugas Mountain 
7/67-2 mi. NE of Las Cruces 
9/74-4.5 mi. N Radium Springs 
9/75-6.1 mi. N 1-25 exit at Radium 

Springs Hwy. 85 
-3 mi. N El Paso Hwy. 85 
6/67-Franklin Mounts, NM404 at El Paso 

gas line 
7/76-8.1 mi. N 1-25 exit at Radium Springs 

Hwy. 85 

Sierra County: 7/64-2 mi. E Elephant Butte 

5/65-E side Elephant Butte Dam 
no date-8 mi. E of Elephant Butte Dam 
-3 mi. E of Elephant Butte Dam 
-Elephant Butte-between main and 
subordinate dams 

Status: The species is mentioned as locally common in some parts 
of its range (Conant 1975). In New Mexico it is of 
uncertain but probably low population density. Live 
specimens currently bring high prices in the pet trade 
and consequently are sought by commercial collectors 
(New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 



61 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



TRANS -PECOS RAT SNAKE 



occurrence possible 
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62 



SIERRA COUNTY 



TRANS-PECOS RAT SNAKE 










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63 



SONORA MOUNTAIN KINGSNAKE 

Lamo ropeltis pyromelana pyromelana . State-Group 2 

Habitat: The Sonora mountain kingsnake ranges in mountains from 
chapparal and pinon-juniper woodland upward into pine- 
fir forest. It is usually concealed under rocks or logs. 

Distirbution: This species occurs from northern Utah and east- 
centra]. Nevada southward through most of Arizona, into 
southwest New Mexico and south into northeast Sonora 
and west Chihuahua. It is a peripheral species in 
New Mexico and is uncommon to rare (New Mexico Game and 
Fish, unpubl. data). 

Dona Ana County: no record 

Sierra County: 1975-one specimen collected 3-1/2 mi. W 

of Chloride 
probable in Black Range (B. Hayward, pers. 
coram. ) 

Status: Not enough is known of this species to make any generaliza- 
tions about its status. Its secretive habits probably 
make it fairly secure. 



64 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



SONORA MOUNTAIN KINGSNAKE 




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66 



LYRE SNAKE 

Trimorphodon biscutatus State-Group 2 



Habitat: The lyre snake occurs in rocky desert or semidesert 

regions although it also ranges upward into evergreen 
woodland and even ponderosa pine forest in canyons and 
rocky areas. It is usually found where rocks and 
vegetation provide good cover. 

Distribution: The species occurs in southern California, southern 
Nevada, southwest Utah, much of Arizona, southwest New 
Mexico, Trans-Pecos Texas, and southward to Costa Rica 
in Central America. In New Mexico it is known from the 
southwest part of the state from the Mexican border to 
Glenwood and east to the mountains bordering the east 
side of the Rio Grande Valley from the Texas line to the 
Elephant Butte area (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. 
data) . 

Dona Ana County: 3/61-Cuevas-5500 ft. 

7/65-1/2 mi. E Rincon 
9/69-Cox's Ranch-S. Mesilla 
5/76-Hwy . 85, 5.2 mi. N. Radium Srpings 

Sierra County: 5/65-500' SE Elephant Butte Dam 
6/65-1 mi. E Elephant Butte Dam 
6/65-500' NE Elephant Butte Dam 
no date-3 mi. E Hillsboro on NM 90 

-2.3 mi. E. Elephant Butte-Engle 

Crossroad 
-Elephant Butte Dam Park-between 
main and axillary dams 

Status: The species appears to be fairly secure in most of its 
extensive range. It is peripheral in New Mexico and of 
unknown but probably low population density. A limiting 
factor may be its collection by commercial traders. 



67 



DONA ANA COUNTY 



LYRE SNAKE 



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69 



ARIZONA CORAL SNAKE 

Micruruides euryxanthus euryxanthus State-Group 2 



Habitat: The species is very secretive and spends most of its 
life underground or hidden under rocks or vegetation. 
It occurs in lowland desert as well as foothills and 
low mountains with rocky areas most favored. It has been 
recorded up to 5900 ft (Roze 1974). 

Distribution: The Arizona coral snake is found from central 

Arizona to southwest New Mexico, possibly extreme Trans- 
Pecos Texas, and in Mexico in western Chihuahua, Sonora, 
and southern Sinaloa. It occurs in the southwest part 
of New Mexico in parts of Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and 
possibly Dona Ana and Luna Counties (Brown 1950, Stebbins 
1966). 

Dona Ana County: possible (Campbell 1975) 

no record 

Sierra County: no record 

Status: The most secretive nature of this species makes it fairly 
secure over most of its range. In New Mexico it is 
peripheral and of unknown but probably low population 
density (New Mexico Game and Fish, unpubl. data). 



70 



WHITE SANDS PUPFISH 

Cyprinodon. tularosa State-Group 2 

Habitat: The White Sands pupfish is found in shallow, calm, highly 
mineralized water charged with alkali salt springs and 
sand and gravel bottoms." Associated with the springs 
are dense growths of salt grass and sedges along the 
edges (R. Suminski, pcrs. coram, and New Mexico Game and 
Fish, unpubl. data) . 

Distribution: This species is endemic to the Tularosa Basin of 

New Mexico and is known only from Malpais Spring, Mound 
Spring and Salt Creek (all on White Sands Missile Range) 
(Conway 1975 and R. Suminski, pers. coram.). 

Dona Ana County: not present 

Sierra County: Salt Creek, Malpais Spring, Mound Spring 

Status: The species is abundant and presently stable, in its 

limited range. Severe drought poses the most immediate 
threat to its continued success. This factor could be 
amplified by any habitat alteration as a result of 
overgrazing, road construction or other forms of 
disturbance. 



71 



SIERRA COUNTY 

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72 



LITERATURE CITED 



Bailey, F. M. 1928. Birds of New Mexico. New Mexico Department 
of Game and Fish, Judd and Do.tweiler, Washington. 807 p. 

Bailey, V. 1971. Mammals of the Southwestern United States. 
Dover, New York. 412 p. 

Bent, A. C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey, 
Vol. I. U.S. Gov't. Printing Office, Washington. 

Bent, A. C. 1938. Life histories of North American birds of prey, 
Vol. II. U.S. Gov't. Printing Office, Washington. 

Brown, B. C. 1950. An annotated checklist of the reptiJ.es and 

amphibians of TExas. Baylor Univ. Press, Waco, Texas. 259 p. 

Campbell, H. 1975. Endangered reptiles and amphibians of New 
Mexico. New Mex. Wildlife, Spet.-Oct., p. 27-30. 

Campbell, H. 1976. New Mexico's endangered monster. New Mex. 
Wildlife, July-Aug. , p. 25-30. 

Conway, M. 1975. New Mexico's endangered fishes. New Mex. 
Wildlife, May-June, p. 18-23. 

David, R. E. 1976. Taxonomic analysis of Gila and Gila x Rainbow 
trout in southwestern New Mexico. M. S. Thesis, NMSU. 

Hanson, J. N. 1971. Investigations on Gila trout, Salmo gilae 
Miller, in southeast New Mexico, M.S. Thesis, NMSU. 

Hickey, J. J. 1942. Eastern population of the duck hawk. Auk, 
59:176-204. 

Hubbard, J. P. 1970. Checklist of the birds of New Mexico. New 
Mex. Ornith. Soc. Publ. No. 3. 108 p. 

, . 1975. The cormorant: waterbird in a dry state. 



New Mex. Wildlife, July-Aug., p. 20-25. 

1976. The bald eagle. New Mex. Wildlife, July-Aug., 



p. 2-5. 



Johnson, D. R. and W. E. Mehlquist. 1973. Unique, rare and 

endangered raptorial birds in northern Idaho: nesting success 

and management recommendations. Univ. of Idaho and USDA/ 

Forest Service. Publ. No. Rl-73-021. 42 p. 



73 



Kahl, J. R. 1971. Osprey habitat management plan, Lassen National 
Forest, 1971. Lassen Nat'l For., Susanville, Ca. 38 p. 

1972. Osprey management on the Lassen National Forest. 



Calif. -Nev. Section, Wildlife Soc. , 1972 Trans, p. 7-13. 

Koplin, J. R- 1971. Osprey workshop: summary of research findings 
and management recommendations. Calif. -Nev. Sect., Wildlife 
Soc, 1971 Trans, p. 114-122. 

Lewis, T. H. 1948. Elaphe scleroti ca in New Mexico. Herpetologica, 
4:223. 

Ligon, J. S. 1961. New Mexico birds and where to find them. Univ. 
of New Mex. Press, Albuquerque. 360 p. 

Lindsey, A. A. 1946. The nesting of the New Mexican duck: Auk, 
63:483-492. 

Nelson, M. W. 1969. The status of the peregrine falcon in the 
northwest. Peregrine Falcon Populations, ed. J. Hickey. 
Univ. Wise. Press, Milwaukee, p. 61-72. 

New Mexico Ornithological Society Field Notes: 1962-1976. 

Nymeyer, L. A. 1975. The Mexican duck in southcentral New Mexico. 
New Mexico State Univ. , Agr. Expt. Station. 

Oberholser, H. C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. Univ. Tex. 
Press, Austin. 1069 p. 

Roberts, H. B. 1969. Management plan for the Crane Prairie Reservoir 
Osprey Management Area. USDA/Forest Serv. and Oregon State 
Game Coram. 20 p. 

Roze, J. A. 1974. Micruroides , Micruroides euryxanthus In Catalogue 
of American reptiles and Amphibians, 163.1-163.4 under Suborder 
Serpentes. Soc. for Study of Amphib. and Reptl. 

Snow, C. 1972. Habitat management series for endangered species. 
Rept. No. 11: American Peregrine Falcon and Arctic Peregrine 
Falcon Tech. Note, USDI. 

Snow, C. 1973. Habitat management series for endangered species. 
Rept. No. 5: Southern bald eagle and northern bald eagle. 
Tech. Note, USDI. 

Stcbbins, R. C. 1966. Field guide to western reptiles and 
amphibians. Houghton-Mifflin. 



74 



Zarn H« 1974. Habitat management scries for unique endangered 
'species. Kept. No. 12: Osprey. Tech. Note, USDI. 



Bureau of Land -ent 

Jenter